Cain Velasquez won the UFC Heavyweight title in 2010, drubbing Brock Lesnar to a first round stoppage victory.
It was a satiating win for the Mexican-American Velasquez, who climbed the ranks the hard way, avoiding no one, cumulating a 9-0 MMA record to the Heavyweight title.
Today, Velasquez is 13-1. You’ll notice a loss in there. After defeating Lesnar, Velasquez took on hungry Brazilian challenger Junior Dos Santos, who razed Cain with a single punch in the opening round.
Velasquez returned better than ever after his first loss as a professional MMA fighter, defeating Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, and, afterwards, beating JDS twice in lopsided bouts.
These were no contests, and Velasquez has since been unstoppable.
With that, comes a whole new dilemma — a matchmaking dilemma? Who can best challenge Velasquez? Who is deserving of a spot in the cage with the UFC Heavyweight champion?
We list ten possible candidates below:
1. Fabricio Werdum
Fabricio Werdum was recently entitled as the mandatory challenger, # 1 UFC Heavyweight contender.
The decision is simple. Werdum is an adept MMA fighter with ample experience in all corners of the sport. He has black belts in BJJ, Judo, and Muay Thai, and, stylistically, is one of the most recognizable fighters in the sport.
Werdum has won four straight, and, pragmatically, serves as the best opponent for Velasquez at this time. He has aa good of a chance as any to lift the crown.
2. Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is no joke.
He is a hammer-fisted Croatian with just one loss, alongside 13 victories. He recently destroyed UFC prospect Fabio Maldonado in 35 seconds, and is almost ready for a title shot.
3. Mark Hunt
“The Super Samoan”, Mark Hunt.
When you hear that name, you think of a man with inexplicable power, a massive fan base, and excitement every time.
Hunt is a must see, and had one of the greatest fights, if not the greatest fight in UFC Heavyweight history against Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in December of 2013.
Hunt vs. Velasquez would be great for the fans, even if Hunt would be a large underdog.
4. Travis Browne
Travis Browne, from Hawaii, but fighting out of New Mexico, was so close that he could taste it.
The rising star had just won three straight fights over top-ten ranked Heavyweights in the UFC.
Then, he ran into the man positioned atop this list — Fabricio Werdum. Werdum decisioned him over five rounds, but fought well enough that he still may be the second or third choice for the title fight.
5. Alistair Overeem
Filling this last hole wasn’t easy. I debated tossing in a younger prospect, maybe someone who hadn’t lost two of his last three fights, but I’ll make an exception.
“The Reem” has had losses, scandals with performance enhancement, and signs of lost dedication, loss of nature fire when competing. For most, that’s a no go, and a precursor to a opprobrious ending to one’s career in the UFC, or any high-level promotion.
Overeem is an exception, as previously mentioned. He’s put in the work and shown signs of improvement. With continued effort, and maybe another win or two, he’ll be knocking on the door of a title challenge.